The ministry of defence on Saturday disclosed more information on how the Nigerian military rescued the 344 abducted students of Government Science Secondary School Kankara, Katsina state.
Bello Matawalle, governor of Zamfara, and Bello Masari, his Katsina counterpart, had said the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association helped in negotiating the release of the schoolboys.
However, John Enenche, spokesman of the defence headquarters, in a statement on Friday, said the military rescued the students from their captors.
Corroborating Enenche’s statement, Ahmed Jibrin, former director, military intelligence and currently special technical adviser to Bashir Magashi, minister of defence, made some disclosures on how the military carried out the rescue operation of the boys when he (Jibrin) and Enenche featured on the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) on Saturday.
Jibrin said following the abduction of the boys, Magashi led a delegation, including the service chiefs and national security adviser to Kankara.
He said the minister gave the rules of engagement directing the troops to ensure that the abducted boys were rescued without casualties and within the shortest time possible.
According to him, the troops closed in on the abductors and engaged them in a gun duel when they were opposed by the alleged bandits.
He added that the troops could not completely demobilise the bandits because of possible collateral damage as the abducted boys were used as human shield.
“Following the directive, the troop closed in on the abductors from four different fronts, including the reinforcement that was made from other divisions to ensure that the entire location was sealed off,” Jibrin said.
“The bandits were all under siege and they were fully aware of that, feeling the impacts of the presence of the troops both from the air and on the ground.
“When they approached the location where the boys were held, the troops encountered some pockets of opposition which they cleared and moved deeper into the forest.
“Although there was no casualty on the part of the boys, a lot of the bandits were neutralised because in the attempt by the military to move forward, they laid an ambush in two places along the way.
“In fact, in the second place where they laid ambush, there was serious resistance because they were hiding and occupied the road.
“They delayed the movement of the troop for some hours before they were neutralised.”
Jibrin said while the troops were on the field, negotiations were also ongoing at another level of the rescue efforts.